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Lawmakers adopt medical cannabis rules

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Lawmakers have accepted the majority of the health department’s proposed regulations for the state’s medical-marijuana program. However, the Rules Review Committee rejected six of the proposals directing the department to make further revisions.

One of the proposals rejected by lawmakers concerned the issue of home-grown cannabis. The health department’s draft rules required a physician to certify if a patient can grow marijuana plants and make a recommendation if they needed more than three plants.

The South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations testified that physicians do not have the training or expertise to decide if a patient should be allowed to grow cannabis or not. Representative Jon Hansen of Dell Rapids agreed.

“As I read the law, I don’t see enough support for the idea that the physician is supposed to be the gatekeeper on home grow or the amount.”

Other proposals lawmakers asked the department to revise dealt with THC restrictions on smokable products, restrictions on advertising and packaging requirements for the transportation of cannabis.

Kit Jefferies is with Dakota Cannabis Consulting in Rapid City. He testified against the requirement that growers package and label cannabis for retail sell before they transport it. He says this would prohibit growers from selling cannabis products in bulk. Jefferies says not allowing bulk transportation of cannabis can cause spoilage.

“Patients end up getting the short end of the stick because of how fast the product goes bad. So when you individually package grams, eighths, ounces that product has a lower shelf life than when it would be able to be packaged in bulk.”

The rules review committee agreed with Jeffries voting 5 to 1 to direct the department of health to change the rules on packaging for transport or sale.

Lawmakers on the committee voted 4 to 1 to accept the rest of the department’s proposed rules.